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HBO: Programming for the left

If there’s a channel out there that doesn’t shy away from political programming — C-SPAN, CNN and other wonk networks aside — it’s HBO.


In the last four years alone, the shows “Recount,” “John Adams,” “Reagan,” “The Special Relationship” and “By the People: The Election of Barack Obama” brought five presidents to the small screen. And the premium network’s wave of political programming isn’t close to breaking.


Just in time for the 2012 election cycle, HBO recently announced three new political projects: the much buzzed about (and already slammed by Meghan McCain) “Game Change,” the comedy series “Veep” and a Dick Cheney miniseries still in its nascent stage.


It sounds like the political junkies at HBO have hijacked the controls, but this ramping up of the cable network’s inside-the-Beltway focus is really nothing new.


Some of you will recall the one-season-only James Carville/Mary Matalin show “K Street,” in 2003. (More viewers probably saw Carville’s humorous 2008 Super Bowl commercial for Coke than peeked in on “K Street,” but what other network would even consider a fictional show, starring wonks, based on current events?)


Other HBO-philes will remember 1995’s “Truman” and “Tanner ’88” in, you guessed it, 1988.


“Garry Trudeau and Robert Altman’s ‘Tanner ’88′ was in the very early days of original programming and another example of a differentiated voice,” HBO co-president Richard Plepler told POLITICO about the presidential election mocumentary. “We are looking for original voices all the time, looking for different points of view and for quality.”


The wave of political programming on HBO ebbs and flows — as does the number of political pitches the network receives. But, like any other network, it’s looking for programming that speaks to the country’s zeitgeist. And right now, it’s infused with politics.


Purely political programming may not always come in rapid-fire succession, but HBO has also put its high-definition stamp on documentaries and shows that rub elbows with the power and policy of politics.



For More HBO Leftist Programming:

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin

HBO’s Latest Victim: Dick Cheney

HBO’s Palin Derangement Syndrome



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